PAVE Provides International Students with a Pathway to Practice in the United States

Published 2/02/2023

The Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence, or PAVE, is a pathway for veterinarians who are graduates of international, non-accredited veterinary programs, to practice in the United States. At the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine there are currently eight students from around the world who are pursuing that opportunity. The year-long program, which is recognized in 43 states, Washington D.C., the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, is organized and evaluated by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.

Photo from left: Ki Tae Kim, Dayoung Oh, Gazelle Safavi Haas, Muhib Sahibzada
Photo from left: Ki Tae Kim, Dayoung Oh, Gazelle Safavi Haas, Muhib Sahibzada

Gazelle Safavi Haas, DVM, is a PAVE student from Iran. Before coming to Columbia, Safavi Haas earned a veterinary degree at Azad University of Tehran. After graduation, she moved to Texas to join her husband. Once in Texas, she took time to study for the exams required for foreign graduate veterinarians. While studying, she worked as a veterinary technician, became a registered nurse, and even worked as a triage nurse for a brief time. She then investigated PAVE and decided that the program at Mizzou was a fit for her. “It wasn’t easy to go to nursing school, work as a vet tech, and study for exams simultaneously, but this path has been nothing but exciting and very challenging,” said Safavi Haas. “During my research about the University of Missouri, I realized the clinical training program offers a wide variety of rotations, which would help to improve my skills and expertise as a veterinarian. I firmly believe PAVE at Mizzou aligns with my career goals and is an excellent opportunity to enhance my clinical skills.”

Ki Tae Kim, DVM, is a PAVE student from South Korea. After successfully completing his three-year military service as a captain in the Korean Army, Kim earned his master’s degree in veterinary diagnostic imaging at Seoul National University, which received American Veterinary Medical Association accreditation in 2018. While completing his master’s degree, Kim also finished specialty courses at the Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging Department at the Seoul National University Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital, leading to him earning his DVM in 2014. Kim then met his wife, who is also a PAVE student at Mizzou, while working as the chief veterinarian at that same teaching hospital. They decided together that they wanted to further their understanding of veterinary medicine and chose to pursue PAVE at the CVM. “After finishing my specialty in veterinary radiology in Korea, I still wanted to study more in-depth veterinary radiology with competent radiologists and other modalities that have not yet been adopted in Korea,” said Kim. “In my country, there is not much training for large animals, such as farm animals and equine. The University of Missouri is well known for its quality education program and dedication to student education. Without a doubt MU is the most popular school for the PAVE program in Korea, and I’m happy that I can study here in this beautiful place with my wife.”

Dayoung Oh, DVM, is also a PAVE student from South Korea, as well as the wife of Ki Tae Kim. Oh graduated from the Seoul National University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016. Because the accreditation of the college came in 2018, it became more important for both Kim and Oh to participate in PAVE. Oh remained at SNU after graduation to complete her master’s degree in veterinary radiology. She then worked as a veterinary radiologist for approximately four years, handling radiographs, ultrasounds, echocardiographs, CT and MRI scans of cats and dogs. While working, Oh, with her peers, published two books in South Korea about the diseases of cats and dogs that caregivers should know to provide more accurate and useful information to pet owners. Oh says she the limitations and lack of resources in South Korea contributed to her and her husband pursuing PAVE at Mizzou. “My patients who needed and could have benefited from radiation therapy were not able to receive it,” said Oh. “I wanted to learn more, so I decided to continue my studies in this field and go to the United States with a goal of pursuing a specialty program in radiation oncology. I thought acquiring the United States veterinarian certification would be a good first step in my journey, so I prepared to apply for PAVE and thankfully received the opportunity to join at Mizzou.”

Muhib Sahibzada, DVM, is a PAVE student from Afghanistan. Before coming to the United States, Sahibzada studied at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad in Faisalabad, Pakistan. There he earned his doctor of veterinary medicine degree and studied mixed animals with an emphasis on public health. Sahibzada then transitioned back to Afghanistan, where he worked in the public health sector for the United States Agency for International Development Mission for Afghanistan and the Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations. He served the Food and Agriculture Organization as a public veterinary officer, identifying areas of common disease, collecting data for future research, and distributing vaccinations for transboundary animal diseases. In this role, Sahibzada worked closely with the provincial livestock department, local military, and United States military to work efficiently near war zones and prevent transboundary viral diseases from passing from South Asian countries to Afghanistan, and from Afghanistan to areas of Europe where many of the diseases had been eradicated. Following that experience, Sahibzada decided to pursue a lifelong goal of studying in the United States and found an opportunity at Mizzou. “I always wanted to be a part of a veterinary college in the United States,” said Sahibzada. “The quality of the education and the dedication that veterinarians have to saving the lives of animals has always been my top priority. Mizzou was always at the top of my list. In the past, I visited Columbia to visit my friend and he introduced me to students in the Afghan Students Association on campus. At that time, I met some PAVE students and decided that Mizzou would be the best place for me to develop a bright future in the veterinary field.”

These students, with different stories and paths to the MUCVM, and their four PAVE classmates, will complete the program in June before moving forward on their veterinary journey.

By Nick Childress